Antique Shanghai Pop Music

Mixed Selection I

The is the first part of a series that presents songs by various singers, with no thematic unity - songs that the host has not had the chance to share.

Zhou Xuan Special III, 1946 - 1948

In this final part of the Zhou Xuan Special, we encounter the songs recorded during Zhou Xuan's career peak. While many of the films during this period were in fact shot in Hong Kong, their subject matters still revolved life in Shanghai and the recording industry remained in Shanghai.

Zhou Xuan Special II, 1941 - 1945

In this installment, we continue to explore Zhou's life and her songs. We witness the shift in her techniques and the musical genre's aesthetics - folk tune themed pop music gave way to Jazz music. During this period, Zhou's artistic mastery also reached its mature stage.

Zhou Xuan Special I, 1934 - 1940

This is the first of a three part series specially dedicated to Zhou Xuan’s life and career. Songs that appear in this series are presented in rough chronological order. This installment covers her notable recordings from 1934 to 1940 and some of these early recordings may be of more historic value to our audience than listening pleasure.


This installment formally introduces duets in Antique Pop. Most of these songs take on a style very similar to Chinese folk music, usually set in very simple melodies and presented as dialogues between a man and a woman. There are exceptions, with voices in polyphonic composition, and they evince great affinity to early Hollywood musicals.

The opening music for this installment is a section taken from 'New Year Celebration/賀新年', with Zhang Fan/張帆. It is interesting to note that the music transitions into the 'Jingle Bells' melody, probably because in the Chinese perception, Christmas was more or less the equivalent to their tradition new year, for otherwise, 'Auld Lang Syne' would have been a more appropriate choice.

The Lesser Know Singers

A collection of lesser known singers.

Foreign Songs Adapted

Listening to foreign songs alongside with their Shanghai adaptations, one easily notices the progression of antique Shanghai pop's stylistic progression and marvels at, realizes its uniqueness.

Zhang Fan and Chen Juan Juan

This installment brings two singers who were 'sisters' on the silver screen. They share much in common at the first glance yet each has her very distinct style.

Li Li Hua and Bai Yun

Two very delicate voices that sang with a traditional panache - evergreen movie queen, Li Li Hua and Bai Yun.

The Soprano Edition

This installment presents the true divas, amazing sopranos of Shanghai.

Corrigendum: I mispronounced the name 喻宜萱 in this installment as Yu(2) Yi(4) Xian(2), whereas it should have been Yu(4) Yi(2) Xuan(1).

Liang Ping and Yi Min

This installment features two very modern singers in the 1940s, Liang Ping and Yin Min. The production and commercial quality of their songs reached parity with the leading trends of the world. Liang Ping's voice was highly protean and she treated her songs with a classical interpretation, a facile jazz delivery and occasionally a traditional ballad style of singing.

The Gentlemen Singers of Shanghai

This installment brings you some of the notable gentlemen singers of Shanghai. They were truly a rare breed but one finds their styles no less diverse or engaging.

Nightingale and Dews

This installment features two singers whose careers took off in the post WWII Shanghai, the golden era of pop music. They are Wu Ying Yin and Zhang Lu. The bands had perfected their crafts and the music industry had reached its full maturity. The results were very elaborated arrangements and highly refined vocal styles, and even the voices that sang blues were very refined, if not overly refined.

White Rainbow and Autumn Clouds

This installment features Bai Hong and Gong Qiu Xia, who joined the entertainment field and achieved fame even before the Golden Voice, Zhou Xuan. What is also afforded here is a rare opportunity to experience the harbingers of antique Shanghai pop music, Li Li Li and Wang Ren Mei, who were indeed the very first of the breed. Though their presence was brief and their vocal styles bespoke a highly experimental phase of the genre, their legacy is not something to be overlooked.

Erratum: "Drizzly Rain" was recorded in late 1938, as listed below, not in 1939 as announced.

White Light and Fragrant Violets

You can hear Li Xiang Lan’s (Yamaguchi Yoshiko’s) operatic pop songs and the fascinating stories of her life. Equally stunning is Bai Guang’s incomparable charisma. This installment features the most unique voices of Chinese oldies.

Gold and Silver

The featured stars of this bimetallic installment are Zhou Xuan and Yao Li. Your host, Ling also takes special care to reveal some facets that distinguish antique Chinese pop music from its western kin.

Glamour from an Erstwhile Era

In this pilot installment, you can hear songs by some of the biggest stars that shone in the night sky of Shanghai in the 30’s and 40’s. Most of the recordings featured here were made at the height of Chinese Antique Pop. They are representative of the sophisticated taste of mid to late 40’s and demonstrate a unique flavor particular to the period - rich, ornate, delicate but devoid of bashfulness. To mention a few resounding names: Zhou Xuan, Li Xiang Lan, Yao Li, Bai Guang, Bai Hong, Wu Ying Yin, and Ou Yang Fei Ying.